Coca-Cola Great Britain and WWF renew partnership to protect precious UK river habitats

Coca-Cola Great Britain and WWF-UK announce they will be extending their partnership for another three years, building on their pioneering work to protect precious river habitats in the UK, supported by a grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation.

Coca-Cola and WWF have been working together on water-sensitive farming in the UK since 2012. The next phase of this partnership will allow work to continue in the East Anglia region, and together with partners at Norfolk Rivers Trust and The Rivers Trust, will focus on improving river health, sustainable soil-sensitive farming practices and on-farm interventions.

The partnership will support farmers and stakeholders in two major catchments – the Cam and Ely Ouse and the Broadlands Rivers. Through on-the-ground work and expert advice, it will help them to reduce the impacts of their crop production on the freshwater environment, including through reducing field run-off from tractor wheelings and promoting the use of cover crops to avoid run-off and nutrient leaching from bare winter soil.

Liz Lowe, sustainability manager, Coca-Cola Great Britain, said: “We’re delighted to be extending our partnership with WWF-UK. Water stewardship is at the heart of our business, with water being the most important ingredient in all our drinks. Not only is it vital for us to protect the sustainability of our water for future generations, we’re also committed to replenishing 100 per cent of the water we use in areas of water stress. Our WWF partnership over the last six years has achieved some remarkable results and we want to continue to show other businesses the positive impacts that water stewardship and nature-sensitive farming can bring and encourage them to join us in this important work.”

To date Coca-Cola and WWF-UK have replenished over 1.2 billion litres of water back to the environment and have directly supported 135 farmers to introduce more soil-sensitive practices, resulting in over 4,000 acres of land being farmed more sustainably. The new phase will look to return a further billion litres of replenished water in one of the most water-stressed areas of Great Britain.

The UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with more than half of species declining since 19701. In England, 86 per cent of rivers are failing to meet good ecological status2.

Lucy Lee, head of food and landscapes at WWF-UK, said: “The UK’s economy, particularly our agriculture, depends on healthy natural systems, so it’s vital that farmers and other businesses come together to support the sustainable management of our landscapes. As one of many businesses sourcing from our project area in East Anglia, Coca-Cola has helped us introduce more sustainable farming practices that have led to measurable improvements in soil and water quality. Thanks to their renewed commitment, we’ll be engaging hundreds more farmers and piloting innovative catchment-scale programmes to protect and restore nature.”

Globally, WWF and The Coca-Cola Company have worked together since 2007 to conserve priority river basins around the world and on initiatives to integrate sustainability into the company’s operations. The continued partnership supports Coca-Cola’s global sustainability ‘replenish’ commitment to safely return to communities and nature an amount of water equal to what it uses in the production of its drinks.